Macaron - Vanilla and Chocolate

Back in Boston my inner foodie was momentarily sedated by the recent food binge but (un)fortunately not for long. Like the hulk faced with a new threat, the hunger reared it's ugly head and the new skinny jeans went back into the closet. I had been particularly haunted by the lack of a stable source of macarons so decided to roll up my sleeves and take a stab at baking.

Chocolate macaron from second batch attempts
My initial attempt was to follow the online recipe of Tartelette but scaled down to one egg as I was sure of my inevitable failures and didn't want to waste too much food.  This website has plenty of macaron and other dessert ideas and beautiful beautiful photography.  I then bought the I Love Macaron book by Hisako Ogita and used a combination of the recipes from the two. But the best recipe would have to be from Syrup and Tang which has great coverage on common problems and how to overcome them.  

Between each batch variation I asked Little Miss Sunshine and the Frenchmen to try and they kindly indulged my temporary macaron madness.  Several and I mean several batches were tested and thanks to their constructive criticism this is the resultant recipe used:

First batch of the vanilla flavoured macarons
         1 egg white (kept at room temperature overnight to allow some drying)
         80 mL almond meal
         120 mL powdered sugar
         3 tbsp granulated sugar

The macarons will work without letting the egg white dry overnight but if you do reduce the water content it helps the macarons be a bit thicker and chewier keeping all else constant.  Combine almond meal and powdered sugar and sift twice.

Start beating the egg white at high speed till it starts to turn slightly white. Then slowly add granulated sugar while continued beating.  Wait till stiff white peaks form (egg white should not fall out if you turn bowl upside down).  Then slowly fold in the almond/sugar mix and at this stage you can add the flavouring or colouring if desired.  For vanilla - I used freshly harvested vanilla seeds from about 1/2 inch of a vanilla pod.  For chocolate I used 1 tsp dark cocoa powder (Valrhona makes excellent cocoa powder for cooking).

Fold the mixture gently till everything is combined.  It is essential not to over mix which as far as I can tell pretty much is less than five stirs after all the dry mixture or flavouring is mixed in.  Put the mixture in a piping bag and slowly pipe the mixture onto baking paper lined double layered baking tray or mat.  I like everything miniature so I aimed for 1 inch diameter sized macarons.  Tap the bottom of the tray a few times then allow the macarons to dry for 30 min or longer depending on the humidity of the room.  They are dry if they don't stick when you touch them.  

Pre-heat the oven to 335oF and bake the macarons for 6 min.  Turn oven off and bake for another 6 min with a foil tent covering to prevent burning from the top.  Take macarons out and allow them to cool before removing from the baking paper and assembling the macarons. I find that the oven temperature and baking time is most variable among recipes and probably very dependent on your oven so there will be some experimenting for sure.

I used a chocolate butter cream filling but I think a chocolate ganache would have been a better option.

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